5 March 2019

Genesis 39

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favour in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’

But he refused. ‘With me in charge,’ he told her, ‘my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?’ 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even to be with her.

11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. ‘Look,’ she said to them, ‘this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.’

16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: ‘That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.’

19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, ‘This is how your slave treated me,’ he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warder. 22 So the warder put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warder paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

The story of Joseph moves on quickly. The arrogant, favoured seventeen year old has grown into a responsible man who takes his duties seriously. Like a diligent, gifted employee, he was quickly promoted until he was given the most senior position available to him. He had, perhaps, more than he could ever have imagined, given the circumstances of his arrival in Egypt.

Life, however, invariably throws up curve balls—whether it be disappointments in relationships, retrenchment, illness, bullying, temptations, unfairness in the workplace. The list is lengthy and the effects can be traumatic. Joseph found himself facing one of these difficult times, when he was blatantly lied about by a lusting, self-serving woman who couldn’t get what she wanted. His defining priority was not to sin against God (verse 9) but despite this he was thrown into prison when the lies were believed.

In our current context we are unlikely to be put into prison based on lies told against us, although in recent years it appears that people in our country have lost jobs in government because they refused to be corrupt. Joseph’s story similarly challenges us to be faithful to God, above all else. Whatever the cost.

This chapter, however begins (verse 2) and ends (verse 23) with an almost identical sentence. ‘The LORD was with Joseph and so he succeeded in everything he did.’ Despite his difficult circumstances Joseph was not abandoned by God. In prison, the Lord showed His faithfulness to Joseph, blessing his relationships and using his gifts. As the story unfolds we see how these circumstances were used, step by step, to clearly demonstrate God’s hand at work.

We may or may not hold great responsibility, we may or may not be hugely gifted, but as God’s children we can be assured that our Lord is with us as we journey through this life.  Whatever the circumstances He is working out His purposes.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thankYou for the story of Joseph and his faithfulness to You in these difficult circumstances. We are mindful that You worked out Your purposes for Your people then, and You continue to work out Your purposes in our lives today. Keep us faithful to You Lord, whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. Thank You for the sure and certain hope that we have in Jesus and that He has promised that He will never leave or forsake us. Amen.